Nov 192013
 

Time-Gods-Of FoodIf you’ve read the news on who’s a top US chef, they are all men, according to a male food editor and a male restaurant critic.

Two features stirred the wrath of many: a cover story on “The Gods of Food” in Time magazine; and a list of Rising Stars from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eater interviewed the Time magazine food editor about why female chefs did not appear, and here is his reply:

“We discussed that for a while, we actually thought about it. We wanted to name a couple. Another reality: none of them have a restaurant that we believe matches the breadth and size and basically empire of some of these men that we picked. They have the reputation and all that and it’s an unfortunate thing. The female chef is a relatively recent phenomenon, except for Alice who has been around for a long time. None of them have the recent breadth that these guys have.”

Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer offered this defense of his choices in a follow-up piece (in 2011, the first time he chose only male chefs — and this is his 4th year running), saying Continue reading »

Nov 122013
 
Shakshooka-Israel

What is the most exciting way to tell people to make this dish? Julia knows.

You’re sick of writing “add” and “place” in recipes, aren’t you? (If not, you should be.)

Here’s help. Use powerful action verbs, the way that Julia Child did. I spent a pleasurable hour reading through Mastering the Art of French Cooking to Continue reading »

Nov 052013
 
Mark-Rotella

Mark Rotella, senior editor of Publishers Weekly, edits Cooking the Books newsletter, which includes 8 to 10 cookbook reviews.

Mark Rotella, senior editor of Publishers Weekly and editor of the Cooking the Books newsletter, hires cookbook reviewers for PW’s newsletter, which carries 8 to 10 reviews per month.

(The pay is $25, and there’s no byline. If you’re interested, see info at the bottom of this interview.)

The reviews are aimed at bookstore and library buyers, so reviewers rarely test a recipe. The cookbooks Rotella selects are mostly from big names. I spoke with him about what makes a good cookbook review and why:

Q. What is the most important question to ask yourself when approaching a new cookbook for review?

A. See if it lives up to what it purports to do.

I tell my reviewers not to review the book on what they want it to be, but whether the author or publisher has accomplished what they set out to do, and whether they do it well. I usually cut out the part where the reviewer says I would have liked it better if they did this, except when ingredients are hard to find, or when the book needed an index or resource section.

PublishersWeeklyQ. How do you do see if it delivers on its promises? 

A. You’ve got the title and subtitle. You make sure all the information is there, and you figure out what’s different about this book and why would it stand out. Flip through to see how it’s laid out and what it feels like.

Q. How important is it to read the book from cover to cover?

A. That’s a good question. I expect Continue reading »

Oct 292013
 
Style: "Neutral"

Cookbook Author Anne LIndsay, now retired and my hero.

After a long day of work, I want to make a quick, easy meal that tastes great. And one that’s light and healthy.

That’s a tall order, isn’t it? Those of us who have written and tested recipes know.

Just three cookbooks I’ve used in the last decade fit the bill. Until recently, I took these books for granted. I didn’t think about the author as a professional in our field. I was too busy cooking, grateful to be a home cook using good recipes that worked.

Earlier this year I went to Canada for a food blogging conference. I decided to find this cookbook author whose no-fail recipes I used for years. Her name is no secret to Canadians: Anne Lindsay. The weathered and stained cookbooks on my kitchen bookshelf — gifts from my sister in Vancouver — are

  • Lighthearted Everyday Cooking (1991)
  • Anne Lindsay’s Light Kitchen (1994)
  • The Lighthearted Cookbook: Recipes for Healthy Heart Cooking (1998)

She wrote these cookbooks with health organization partners: The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, The United Way of Canada, and the Canadian Heart Foundation. (You’ll learn in a minute why this was a brilliant Continue reading »

Oct 252013
 
Food-Writing-Workshop-Dubai

Food writing students at my Dubai workshop, working on a writing exercise on using the senses.

It’s been an incredible three weeks away, starting with a writing workshop in Dubai. Our group comprised local Dubai food bloggers and three students from South America, Lebanon and Pakistan.

Put on by Food Blogger Connect, the students feasted on Middle-Eastern food and high-end Asian each night of the two-day workshop. The second day featured photography and recipe writing tips by Ellen Silverman and Martha Holmberg.

Our workshop caught the attention of the local Dubai paper, which interviewed me and listed the top bloggers of Dubai, some of whom attended my class. That’s quite an honor.

Food Blogger Connect founder Bethany Kehdy, fresh from her fabulous cookbook signing in Lebanon, coordinated the first-ever Dubai workshop  with her sister Joslin Kehdy. Continue reading »

Sep 242013
 

Using-Salt-in-RecipesWhenever I edit recipes, I feel my blood pressure rising (and I haven’t even consumed the salt yet!) Three things about using salt set me off:

Why do so many recipes fail to specify the amount of salt? Why do recipes say to season with salt when you can’t know if you’re adding the right amount? Why do recipes say to add salt at the wrong time?

As you know, I have opinions on recipe writing, and specifying salt is no exception. Here’s my take on where many recipes go wrong, and how to fix them:

1. Adding “to taste” to salt in the ingredients list. The ingredients list comes before Continue reading »

Sep 172013
 
Kitty-Morse

It took Kitty Morse 10 years to write her memoir. Her agent couldn’t sell it, even though she was an award-winning cookbook author. (Photo by Owen Morse.)

A guest post by Kitty Morse

As a cookbook writer with nine books under my belt, I always harbored a desire to write a memoir centered around Dar Zitoun, the riad that my father willed my brothers and me 50 miles south of my native Casablanca. I fantasized about writing my own story, free of editorial constraints such as word counts. But how? I was just a cookbook writer.

Frances Mayes’ bestselling Under the Tuscan Sun provided the impetus I sought. Her stories of restoring a Tuscan farmhouse struck me as similar to those I experienced at Dar Zitoun. I too was living on two continents and learning to deal with Continue reading »